Gigabyte Z490 AORUS XTREME Motherboard Review

/ 5 days ago

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A Closer Look

It’s certainly one of the best looking motherboard out there, it may be XTREME and also rather bloody enormous, but the colour pallet and design help keep it somewhat understated. What you’re looking at really is a collection of very big heatsinks and occasionally, you’ll see a bit of motherboard poking through the gaps.

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For extreme overclocking, you’ll be happy to see a 90A Smart Power Stage, built onto an 8-layer PCB, a 16 Phases Digital VRM. What’s most impressive, however, is that it has the largest VRM cooler I’ve seen, with their Direct-Touch Heatpipe II, Fins Array II, NanoCarbon coating, and NanoCarbon Baseplate with 7.5 W/mK LAIRD Conductive Pad. This is a proper cooler, not just a chunk of metal that looks good.

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Up top, you’ll see that power delivery comes from the 8+8 Solid Pin CPU connectors, which have a durable metal shielding.

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Of course, you get some RGB built-in too for good mesasure, with the AORUS logo on the back here.

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Plus a load more in the chipset heatsink down here. Of course, that’s only part of the aesthetic here, as the angular design, the mixture or matte, chrome, gun-metal and brushed metal should look erratic, but it doesn’t, it looks awesome. I know that’s subjective, but you’ll be hard pushed to convince me this isn’t a great looking design.

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There are three M.2 bays in here, all under large heatsinks to ensure maximum performance and protection. Plus, all three of the full-size PCIe lanes are fully armoured too. The only thing that sticks out is the red capacitor from the audio hardware, I don’t mind it, but with everything else covered it does draw your attention. Well, that and they wrote “dominant in darkness” on it which… is odd.

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On to better things, we have a handy power control setup on the motherboard, as well as BIOS debug LEDs.

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Plus your main power and reset buttons just to the side of that.

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All the usual dip switches are here too, allowing you to flip the BIOS and turn on/off various hardware features. They’re just hidden under these lovely shrouds.

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The back of the motherboard is just more of that heatsink, as it forms around into a backplate too. There is a motherboard under there, somewhere, I promise you. You can’t see it, and it’ll come as no surprise, but this motherboard is HEAVY.

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The rear I/O shield is pre-installed, so that’s one less thing to worry ab out. They’ve not wasted much space here either, cramming in BIOS and QFLASH controls at the top. WiFi 6, 10GbE LAN and 2.5GbE LAN for uncompromised networking. There are eight USB ports for connectivity, as well as a dual Thunderbolt 3 setup for 40 Gbps transfer speeds. There’s HDMI out, SPDIF and gold-plated audio jacks for everything else; not too shabby!

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